compostable chicken bones

Don’t Toss Those Chicken Legs! How To Safely Compost Bones

When most people think about composting, they think about organic materials like fruits and vegetables. But when it comes to bones, its a little more complicated. Are they compostable or not? In this blog post, we’ll explore the question of whether or not bones are suitable for compost, and why you would want to compost them in the first place!

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compostable bones


Bones are generally considered a non-compostable item by most composters. And for good reason! Bones can cause a lot of problems in your compost pile:

  • Attract animals: Bones are a huge attractant for animals like raccoons, opossums, dogs, and rats. These critters can wreak havoc on your compost pile—digging through it, scattering its contents, and even eating the food scraps you’ve worked hard to collect.
  • Attract flies: Bones can attract many different types of flies to your compost pile, which can be a real nuisance. Some of these flies will find their way into your home if you don’t get them under control quickly—and that is something we hope to prevent!
  • Cause odors: Bones also release foul odors as they decompose, causing unpleasant smells and even attracting more animals to the pile.
  • Take forever to decompose: While some bones will eventually break down, it’ll take much longer than any other item in your compost pile—and probably too long for most gardeners to wait around.

For these reasons, you should avoid composting bones in your average backyard compost pile.


On the other hand, the nutrients within bones have a lot of benefits for the soil. They are a great source of phosphorus and calcium, which are essential nutrients for plants. And because they take so long to decompose, they can help build up healthy soil over time.

Most composters are very interested in reducing all types of waste, including bones! It pains us to throw any type of organic waste in the trash when it could possibly be composted.

So if you’re determined to get those bones to decompose at home, here are some safe ways to do it:



If you cook the bones for a long while before composting, they may decompose more quickly and be less tempting for animals and bugs. You can either roast them in the oven or simmer them on the stove for several hours until they are soft and brittle.

If you decide to put these in an outdoor pile, be sure to bury the bones deep in compost pile, they will be less likely to attract animals or cause unpleasant smells.


Some experts (1) recommend cremating your animal bones in a wood stove or a bonfire, and then adding the resulting ash to your compost pile. Others vehemently disagree and say that this is a bad practice, so try it at your own risk!


Bokashi is an excellent way to dispose of old bones. If you haven’t tried it or heard of it, this is an indoor composting method that can accept most types of waste that can’t be composted by typical methods. You can read all about it here.


If you have the space for it, a Green Cone Solar Digester is another good option. It’s basically just an outdoor compost bin that uses solar heat to speed up decomposition—and it can accept bones without any problems!

The only downside is they are expensive and they don’t produce usable compost. But if your main goal is to keep waste out of the landfill, this will do the job!


Hot composting is a tricky method because you have to add all of your composting ingredients at once in order for the pile to heat up properly. But if you can swing it, this method can take care of bones! It’s also a very fast way to get finished compost (in as little as two week!) but I recommend doing some research before you try it.


Bone meal is an amazing soil supplement all by itself, so another option for using up old bones is to make your own bone meal! It involves boiling the bones for a very long time, running them through a food processor, and then dehydrating it. It takes quite of bit of time and effort, but it may be worth it!


Depending on the types of bones and the composting method that you choose to use, the amount of time it takes for bones to decompose can vary a lot. Chicken bones can be gone in as little as a few months, especially if you hot compost them. Bones from larger animals like cows will take much longer, even years!

Smaller pieces of bones will decompose faster, so if you can break or cut the bones up before composting, that will help move the process along.


So what’s the verdict? Are bones compostable or not? The answer is: it depends.

As you can see, it’s possible to compost bones but it’s not always easy or safe. Most of the time, there are other options besides traditional composting that are more convenient and less risky… like using a Green Cone Solar Digester or simply making your own homemade bone meal!

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